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ALL ABOUT OCEANS AND SEAS
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TIDES
WHAT CAUSES THE TIDES?
Tides are periodic rises and falls of large bodies of water. Tides are caused by the gravitational interaction between the Earth and the Moon. The gravitational attraction of the moon causes the oceans to bulge out in the direction of the moon. Another bulge occurs on the opposite side, since the Earth is also being pulled toward the moon (and away from the water on the far side). Since the earth is rotating while this is happening, two tides occur each day. Isaac Newton was the first person to explain tides scientifically.

For information on the moon, click here.

The Sun's Interaction with the Tides

Spring Tides
Spring tides are especially strong tides (they do not have anything to do with the season Spring). They occur when the Earth, the Sun, and the Moon are in a line. The gravitational forces of the Moon and the Sun both contribute to the tides. Spring tides occur during the full moon and the new moon.

Proxigean tide
The eccentricity of the orbit of the moon in this illustration is greatly exaggerated.
The Proxigean Spring Tide is a rare, unusually high tide. This very high tide occurs when the moon is both unusually close to the Earth (at its closest perigee, called the proxigee) and in the New Moon phase (when the Moon is between the Sun and the Earth). The proxigean spring tide occurs at most once every 1.5 years.

Neap Tides
Neap tides are especially weak tides. They occur when the gravitational forces of the Moon and the Sun are perpendicular to one another (with respect to the Earth). Neap tides occur during quarter moons.


WEB LINKS ON TIDES
NOAA on tides
Tides from the Department of Geography, Okanagan University College



EnchantedLearning.com
ALL ABOUT OCEANS AND SEAS
Introduction Why is the Ocean Salty? What Causes Waves? Tsunami The Water Cycle Ocean Animal Printouts Ocean Crafts
Why is the Ocean Blue? What Causes Tides? Hurricane Undersea Explorers Coral Reefs Intertidal Zone Sunlit (Euphotic) Zone Ocean Printouts


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